Everyone knows about food in Italy. Most commonly, pasta and pizza are daily dishes for people all over the world. However, there is so much more to authentic Italian cuisine. This is your guide to everything culinary from all over Italy.
Traditional Ingredients used in the Italian food
These are the 10th most important base ingredients that make Italian food special.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Pasta Sauce
- Fresh Tomatoes
- Italian cheese
100 Foods You Will Want To Try In Italy
Italian Food: Popular Salads & Starters
Panzanella or Panmolle is a Tuscan chopped salad of soaked stale bread, onions, and tomatoes that is popular in the summer. It often includes cucumbers, sometimes basil, and is dressed with olive oil and vinegar. It is also popular in other parts of central Italy.
Bruschetta is an antipasto (starter dish) from Italy consisting of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil and salt. Variations may include toppings of tomato, vegetables, beans, cured meat, or cheese. In Italy, bruschetta is often prepared using a Brustolina grill.
Caprese salad or simply Caprese is a simple Italian salad, made of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and sweet basil, seasoned with salt, and olive oil. In Italy, it is usually served as an antipasto (starter), not a contorno (side dish), and it may be eaten any time of day.
Insalata di rinforzo
Whether as a side dish or appetizer, di rinforzo salad features prominently on the Neapolitan Christmas dinner table. The classic recipe calls for cauliflower, sweet pappardelle bell peppers, and pickles, though it’s not unusual to find a twist or two on the classic version.
Cappon Magro is an elaborate Genoese salad of seafood and vegetables over hardtack arranged into a decorative pyramid and dressed with a rich sauce.
Giardiniera is an Italian relish of pickled vegetables in vinegar or oil.
Insalata Mista, (meaning mixed salad in Italian) most often refers to a bed of arugula layered with fresh vegetables, cheese, meats, and sometimes seafood and/or nuts.
Italian Food: Popular Pizza
Pizza Margherita is a typical Neapolitan pizza, made with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, salt, and extra-virgin olive oil.
Pizza ai Funghi
Pizza ai Funghi is a variety of Italian pizzas that is traditionally topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, oil, and parsley.
A pizzetta is a small pizza that can range in size from a finger food at around three inches in diameter to that of a small personal-sized pizza.
Pizza Bianca literally means white pizza also known as white pie. It is an Italian-styled pizza that does not use tomato sauce. The pizza generally consists of pizza dough, olive oil, garlic, cheese, salt, and sometimes toppings including vegetables such as spinach, tomato, and herbs.
Pizza quattro formaggi
Pizza Quattro Formaggi is a pizza in Italian cuisine that is topped with a combination of four kinds of cheese, usually melted together, with or without tomato sauce. It is popular worldwide, including in Italy, and is one of the iconic food from Pizzerias’ menus in Italy.
Caprese Pizza is one of the classical pizzas in Italian cuisine. The pizza is topped with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and a balsamic glaze.
A calzone pizza is an Italian oven-baked folded pizza, often described as a turnover, made with leavened dough. It originated in Naples in the 18th century.
Pizza Capricciosa is a style of pizza in Italian cuisine prepared with mozzarella cheese, Italian baked ham, mushroom, artichoke, and tomato. Types of edible mushrooms used may include cremini and others. Some versions may also use prosciutto, marinated artichoke hearts, olive oil, olives, basil leaves, and egg.
Pizza marinara, also known as pizza alla marinara, is a style of Neapolitan pizza in Italian cuisine seasoned with only tomato sauce, extra virgin olive oil, oregano, and garlic. It is supposedly the most ancient tomato-topped pizza.
Pizza Bufalina is a pizza that is topped with tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella. Buffalo Mozzarella is the special ingredient for this Pizza. It’s a type of mozzarella prepared with the milk of the Italian Mediterranean buffalo.
Italian Food: Popular Pastas
Carbonara is an Italian pasta dish from Rome made with eggs, hard cheese, cured pork, and black pepper. The dish arrived at its modern form, with its current name, in the middle of the 20th century. The cheese is usually Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or a combination of the two.
Pasta al Pomodoro
Pasta al Pomodoro is an Italian pasta dish typically prepared with pasta, olive oil, fresh tomatoes, basil, and various other fresh ingredients. It is intended to be a quick light dish, rather than a dish in a heavy sauce. Pomodoro means “tomato” in Italian.
Pasta E Fagioli
Pasta e Fagioli, meaning “pasta and beans”, is a traditional Italian pasta dish. It is often called pasta fasul or pasta fazool in the New York Italian dialect, derived from its Neapolitan name, pasta e fasule.
Fettuccine Alfredo or fettuccine al burro is an Italian pasta dish of fresh fettuccine tossed with butter and Parmesan cheese. As the cheese melts, it emulsifies the liquids to form a smooth and rich cheese sauce coating the pasta.
Tortellini are ring-shaped pasta originally from the Italian region of Emilia. Traditionally they are stuffed with a mix of meat, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, egg, and nutmeg and served in capon broth. In the area of origin, they are usually sold fresh or homemade.
Spaghetti bolognese is a pasta dish that consists of spaghetti served with a Neapolitan ragù sauce made from tomatoes, minced beef, garlic, wine, and herbs.
Pappardelle pasta are long, flat, and broad ribbons of egg pasta, that originate in Tuscany a region in Italy. Pappardelle paste texture makes it the perfect accompaniment to more robust sauces and ragus.
Pasta E Ceci
Pasta e Ceci simply means pasta and chickpeas in English. pasta, chickpeas, and vegetables are cooked in a tomato broth, then sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan. Pasta e Ceci is somewhere between a saucy tomato pasta dish, soup, and stew.
Lasagne is an Italian dish made of stacked layers of lasagne alternating with fillings such as ragù (ground meats and tomato sauce), vegetables, cheeses (different types of cheese can be used), and seasonings and spices, like Italian seasonings, such as garlic, oregano, and basil.
Ravioli is a type of Italian pasta comprising a filling enveloped in thin pasta dough. Usually served in broth or with a sauce, they originated as a traditional food in Italian cuisine. The original Ravioli recipe is commonly square, though other forms are also made, including circular and semi-circular.
Gnocchi is a varied family of dumplings in Italian cuisine. They are made of small lumps of dough composed of semolina, ordinary wheat flour, egg, cheese, potato, breadcrumbs, cornmeal, or similar ingredients, and possibly including herbs, vegetables, and other ingredients. Gnocchi are usually eaten as a first course, but they can also be served as a contorno (side dish) to some main courses
Italian Food: Popular Meat & Seafood Dishes
Bistecca Alla Fiorentina
The Bistecca alla Fiorentina is an Italian steak made of veal or heifer that, combined with the specific preparation, makes it one of the most popular dishes of Tuscan cuisine. It is a high cut including the bone, to be cooked on the embers or on the grill, with a degree of “blood” cooking.
Carpaccio is a dish of meat or fish, thinly sliced or pounded thin, and served raw, typically as an appetizer. It was invented in 1950 by Giuseppe Cipriani from Harry’s Bar in Venice and popularised during the second half of the twentieth century.
Bottarga is a delicacy of salted, cured fish roe, typically of the grey mullet or the bluefin tuna. The best-known version is produced around the Mediterranean. In Italy, it is made from bluefin tuna in Sicily, and from flathead mullet in Sardinia, where it is called Sardinian butàriga. Often, it is served with olive oil or lemon juice as an appetizer accompanied by bread or crostini. It is also used in pasta dishes.
Polpette (Italian meatballs)
Polpette or polpette al sugo is a traditional Italian meatball recipe that has become a staple of Italian home cooking. Polpette are Italian bite size, round-shaped nuggets made of meat, ricotta, and different types of veggies. The traditional Polpette recipe is made by cooking the meatballs in a flavoral tomato sauce.
Vitello tonnato is a Piedmontese dish of cold, sliced veal covered with a creamy, mayonnaise-like sauce that has been flavored with tuna. It is served chilled or at room temperature, generally in the summertime, as the main course of an Italian meal.
Italian Food: Other Popolar Dishes
Melanzane Alla Parmigiana
Melanzane alla parmigiana, is an Italian dish made with fried, sliced eggplant layered with cheese and tomato sauce, then baked. The origin of the dish is claimed by both the Southern regions of Campania and Sicily.
Risotto is a northern Italian rice dish cooked with broth until it reaches a creamy consistency. The broth can be derived from meat, fish, or vegetables. Many types of risotto contain butter, onion, white wine, and parmesan cheese. It is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy. Feeling for a homemade delicious risotto? check out this Root vegetable risotto recipe.
Arancini are Italian rice balls that are stuffed, coated with bread crumbs and deep fried, and are a staple of Sicilian cuisine.
Polenta is a dish of boiled cornmeal that was historically made from other grains. It may be served as a hot porridge, or it may be allowed to cool and solidify into a loaf that can be baked, fried, or grilled.
Carciofi Alla Giudea
Carciofi alla giudìa is among the best-known dishes of Roman Jewish cuisine. The recipe is essentially a deep-fried artichoke, and originated in the Jewish community of Rome, giudìo being the Roman dialect term for Jew. It is a speciality of the Roman Ghetto, where it is served by Jewish restaurants in the springtime.
Italian food: Popular Breads
Breadsticks, also known as grissini, grissino or dipping sticks, are generally pencil-sized sticks of crisp, dry baked bread that originated in Italy.
Focaccia is a flat leavened oven-baked Italian bread, similar in style and texture to pizza; in some places, it is called “pizza bianca”. Focaccia can be served as a side dish or as sandwich bread.
Italian food: Soups
Minestrone is a thick soup of Italian origin made with vegetables, often with the addition of pasta or rice, sometimes both. Common ingredients include beans, onions, celery, carrots, stock, croutons, and tomatoes.
Risi E Bisi Soup
Risi e bisi simply means rice and peas, and the dish is traditionally in made spring time with fresh peas and rice.
Italian food: Snacks
Pesto alla genovese (Pesto Sauce)
Pesto, or pesto alla genovese, is a sauce originating in Genoa, the capital city of Liguria, Italy. It traditionally consists of crushed garlic, European pine nuts, coarse salt, basil leaves, and hard cheese such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Sardo, all blended with olive oil.
Gorgonzola is a veined blue cheese, originally from Italy, made from unskimmed cow’s milk. It can be buttery or firm, crumbly and quite salty, with a “bite” from its blue veining. Italian toast with some Gorgonzola cheese would be a perfect afternoon snack.
Parmigiano Reggiano is an Italian hard, granular cheese produced from cow’s milk and aged at least 12 months. It is named after the producing areas, the provinces of Reggio Emilia, Parma, the part of Bologna west of the Reno, and Modena; and the part of Mantua on the right/south bank of the Po.
Garana Padano Cheese
Grana Padano is a cheese originating in the Po river Valley in northern Italy that is similar to Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Food in Italy: Desserts & Pastery
Tiramisu is a coffee-flavoured Italian dessert. It is made of ladyfingers dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of eggs, sugar, and mascarpone cheese, flavoured with cocoa. The recipe has been adapted into many varieties of cakes and other desserts.
Tartufo is an Italian ice cream dessert originating from Pizzo, Calabria. It is usually composed of two or more flavors of ice cream, often with either fruit syrup or frozen fruit (raspberry, strawberry, or cherry) in the center. It is typically covered in a shell made of chocolate or cocoa, but cinnamon or nuts are also used.
Panna cotta is an Italian dessert of sweetened cream thickened with gelatin and molded. The cream may be aromatized with coffee, vanilla, or other flavorings.
Panettone is an Italian type of sweet bread originally from Milan, usually prepared and enjoyed for Christmas and New Year in Western, Southern, and Southeastern Europe as well as in Latin America, Eritrea, Australia, the United States and Canada.
Gelato is a frozen dessert of Italian origin. Artisanal gelato is more flavored than other kinds of frozen desserts, giving it a density and richness that distinguishes it from other ice creams.
A cornetto, meaning “little horn”, is an Italian variation of the Austrian kipferl. It differs from a croissant in being softer and containing less butter. The main ingredients of a cornetto are pastry dough, eggs, butter, water and sugar.
Semifreddo in Italian means “half-cold” or “half frozen”. The dessert got its name from its unique soft and creamy texture. Semifreddo is a classic Italian frozen dessert that’s halfway between ice cream and mousse.
Frittelle or fritole are Venetian doughnuts served only during Carnival. Similar to bomboloni, they are round, yeast-risen fried pastries.
Biscotti, known also as cantucci, are Italian almond biscuits that originated in the Tuscan city of Prato. They are twice-baked, oblong-shaped, dry, crunchy, and may be dipped in a drink, traditionally Vin Santo.
The Italian Crostoli light cookies (also known as galani) makes a great snack during the carnival and Christmas season. Crostoli ribbons are deep fried then dusted with icing sugar resulting into addictive and crispy cookies.
Torrone is an Italian nougat confection, typically made of honey, sugar, and egg white, with toasted almonds or other nuts, and usually shaped into either a rectangular tablet or a round cake
A crostata is an Italian baked tart or pie, also known as coppi in Naples and sfogliata in Lombardy.
Colomba pasquale or colomba di Pasqua is an Italian traditional Easter bread, the counterpart of the two well-known Italian Christmas desserts, panettone and pandoro.
Affogato al caffe
affogato al caffe is an Italian coffee-based dessert. It usually takes the form of a scoop of semisoft cheese-flavored or vanilla gelato or ice cream topped or “drowned” with a shot of hot espresso.
FAQs about food in Italy
What food is Italy known for?
Italy is famous for so many dishes, but if we would choose one type of food that Italy is best famous for I would say pizza.
Is food in Italy expensive?
Depending where do you come from, food in Italy can be perceived as both expensive and reasonably priced but certainly not cheap. Italian food uses special and quite expensive ingredients such as the cheeses and organic oils and herbs.
What food originated in Italy?
Many dishes of this food guide in Italy is actually originated in Italy
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